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Tribute paid to "true European" Helmut Kohl

Added 7/4/2017
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Euronews - 1. 7. 2017; photo: telegraph.co.uk

World leaders have paid tribute to Germany’s former Chancellor Helmut Kohl during a ceremony inside the European Parliament in Strasbourg. A giant of post-war German politics, Kohl oversaw German reunification.He was also a major force behind European integration.

Former US president Bill Clinton, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron all spoke fondly of Kohl, who died aged 87 last month. 

“Helmut Kohl was a true European and friend,” said European Commission president Jean-Calude Juncker. “Europe owes him a lot.”

Recalling the moment talks began to bring several Eastern European countries into the EU, Juncker also said:“During lunch, Kohl asked for permission to speak, exceptionally he asked for permission to speak, because he usually took to the floor. He asked and said, obviously moved with tears which prevented him from speaking, that this very day of the start of the accession talks (with Eastern Europe, Cyprus and Malta) was one of the most wonderful moments in his life. To live through this historic moment of the coming together of Europe as German federal chancellor profoundly moved him in his heart.”

The ceremony in the European Parliament, which was attended by British prime minister Theresa May, came ahead of Kohl’s funeral in the German town of Speyer later on Saturday.

One of the most moving eulogies was given by former US president Bill Clinton who said Kohl was dedicated to creating a world in which no one dominated.